I Love Tailors
Having spent many years in India designing and producing my own line of clothing, I came into frequent contact with tailors from all over India. Even when I wasn’t officially doing business, I was drawn to tailors. Maybe it was our common interest that created an instant bond and ease between us. They seemed to appreciate me, too.
Masterji was one of the most charismatic and problematic of all my tailor friends. He came from the weaving caste in Andra Pradesh and taught himself the art of cutting and sewing. Along the way, he picked up English, too. He was bright, talented and self-destructive.
When I first met Masterji he was entering his forties. His vision was beginning to fail him. He found it difficult to sew at night and couldn’t easily stitch cloth with a dark background. I gave him one of my own pairs of reading glasses. He had no idea how to use them and claimed that they made everything blurry. I showed him how to wear the glasses low on his nose and to use them only for close up work, like sewing. His pleasure and delight was palpable, like a child thrilled with a new toy. He kept looking at everything as if for the first time. He made us laugh.
Masterji was a poor man. When I used to go visit him, he would sometimes ask me if I wanted tea and then ask me to pay – very atypical Indian behavior. This time, when I presented him with the eye glasses, he had his sister make tea for me which meant going out to buy the milk and sugar and he paid. I would bring him a new pair of reading glasses every year.
As much as I liked and admired this tailor, he was on a downward spiral drinking and ignoring his responsibilities. Repeatedly he failed to complete the work I gave him. I haven’t seen Masterji in two years. I am thinking to pay him a visit this winter and even bring him another pair of glasses. Maybe it will help him to see the bigger picture.